Childminding Agencies are regulated by Ofsted, and inspected on a schedule every three years. Ofsted inspections are very thorough and forensic, looking at all aspects of the childminding agency operations.
After an Ofsted inspection, childminding agencies can get one of only two possible gradings: either ‘effective’ or ‘ineffective’. (There’s no ‘outstanding’ in the Childminding Agency world, even if many of their childminders are graded Outstanding!).
The grading really matters — if a childminding agency is graded ‘ineffective’ it can mean their childminders cannot offer funded hours, and might even need to leave the agency entirely.
For childminders, it’s therefore very important that your childminding agency is graded ‘effective’. Luckily, there are a few of those around.
Practically speaking, what happens if your childminding agency is rated Ineffective?
- Immediate feedback: At the end of each Ofsted inspection, the lead inspector will give feedback on the agency’s strengths and areas for improvement, as well as any actions or recommendations. If an ‘inadequate’ rating is on the cards, it’ll be pretty obvious at this point.
- Reinspection: Your agency will be reinspected within 6 to 12 months of the initial inspection, potentially faster. The agency will have received very clear instructions on what to improve, including in the published report which you will be able to read online. You can be sure they’ll be spending a lot of time and effort improving as quickly as they can.
- Cancelled registration: If the agency continues to be ineffective at its next inspection, unfortunately its registration may be cancelled. In this case, all its existing childminders will need to find a new home.
- Loss of funded hours: Many Local Authorities take the approach of stopping funded hours for childminders whose childminder agency has been graded inadequate. Although this doesn’t seem fair to children, parents, or childminder, it is a power they technically have. However, since this is at Local Authority discretion and different Local Authorities do take different views of the situation, it is definitely possible to make a strong case for continuing to support funded hour provision.
If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation of losing funded hours as a childminder, our advice is to band together with other local childminders in the same situation and request a special circumstances continuation. It’s worth a try.
Above all, when choosing an agency make sure you do your homework; read recent Ofsted reports, and ask around for feedback.
Actions you can take
- Switch to another agency
- Wait for the results of the reinspection within 6 to 12 months